In the latest upheaval at NBC‘s ratings-challenged Today show, longtime director Joe Michaels has been named senior director of the show, the network said today. No word from NBC on what his specific responsibilities will be, but a source with knowledge of the situation says he will manage large initiatives and projects on the technical/directorial side, such as Today’s coverage of the Winter Olympics next February. There’s no word on who would be replacing Michaels as director of the morning news show. Today‘s ratings have been slipping for years but the program managed to keep its No. 1 slot until Ann Curry’s ouster last June. Since then, ABC’s Good Morning America has taken over the top spot. Last month GMA continued its dominance over Today by beating the NBC show by 1.6 million viewers. That’s the largest single-day total viewership spread GMA has had in fast affiliate results over the NBC show since May 18, 1994.
UPDATE: Dan Harmon took to Twitter and his blog to apologize for the “very un-Community” comments in Sunday’s podcast rant. He offered a mea culpa to the show’s fans, its crew, and the writers on the fourth season that Harmon was absent for: “I’m sorry I pooped on your work.” Harmon also apologized for using language that “dehumanize[d] the developmentally disabled” and for “using the word ‘rape’ in a comedic context.” Harmon’s now back at work on Community Season 5.
PREVIOUS, MONDAY PM: At Sunday’s taping of his Harmontown podcast, returning Community creator and exec producer Dan Harmon unloaded on the show’s fourth season, which carried on under writers David Guarascio and Moses Port after NBC replaced Harmon as showrunner last year. “It’s very much like an impression and an unflattering one,” he said. “It’s 13 episodes of ‘I’m Dan Harmon!’ I’m going back to work tomorrow morning and I’m just like, do I talk like that?” Harmon, who is heading back for Season 5 with writer Chris McKenna, compared catching up on the Guarascio and Port-led fourth season to “flipping through Instagram watching your girlfriend blow a million [people].”
Halfire-CORE, CORE Media Group’s scripted production venture with veteran Canadian producer Noreen Halpern‘s Halfire Entertainment banner, has closed a deal with NBC. Under the 3-for-1 agreement, Halfire-CORE will develop three lower budget drama projects for NBC, one of which is expected to go to series. No concepts or writers for the projects have been identified yet, but the producers are expected to begin the process shortly.
The pact illustrates Halfire-CORE’s strategy of entering the scripted primetime space by bypassing the traditional pilot cycle and going with a straight-to-series model instead. It also extends on NBC’s efforts in the lower-cost drama arena where the network has been probably the most active broadcast network, experimenting with different templates and partners, including Gaumont (Hannibal) and Georgeville TV (Crossbones). I hear the Halfire-CORE deal came out of Halpern’s existing relationships with NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt and scheduling chief Jeff Bader, with whom Halpern worked at ABC on Rookie Blue, one of several series she shepherded in her previous role as head of scripted for Entertainment One. Graboff, of course, also has a relationship with Greenblatt, with whom he worked for almost a year before leaving to head CORE, and with NBC where he spend more than a decade.
NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution’s Steve Harvey has solidified its status as the breakout new syndicated talk show of 2012-13. On the heels of the Endemol USA-produced talker getting an early renewal for next season by stations — including the core NBC Stations group, in January – the show now has been picked up for two additional seasons, through 2016, in more than 65% of the U.S. “Steve Harvey’s engaging, funny and warm style has been a hit with our audiences,” said Valari Staab, President, NBC Owned TV Stations. “The show has strengthened our daytime lineups and proven to be a strong lead-in to Ellen and, in turn, our local newscasts.” Steve Harvey got off to a solid start last fall and by the May sweep, it was the #1 new first-run show with women 18-49 and women 25-54 nationally, topping fellow rookie Katie, and was the only new show to build over its lead-in and improve the year-ago time period.
A woman will continue to call the shots on The Tonight Show. Veteran Late Night With Jimmy Fallon writer Amy Ozols has been named producer of the upcoming The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which will premiere in February. The Tonight Show is reverting to its former title, used for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson before “starring” was replaced by “with” for hosts Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. Ozols will produce the show, which will originate from NBC‘s 30 Rock in New York, while Lorne Michaels serves as executive producer.
“Amy Ozols has been with Jimmy since the very beginning of Late Night,” Michaels said. “She is brilliant. I think she is the right choice to lead The Tonight Show into the future.” Added Fallon, “It’s been so fun working with Amy these past four years — she’s been a standout writer and producer since we started Late Night.”
EXCLUSIVE: Matt Olmstead, executive producer of NBC’s Chicago Fire and co-creator/executive producer of its upcoming spinoff Chicago PD, has signed a rich two-year overall deal with Universal Television, the studio behind the two series, along with Wolf Films. Under the seven-figure pact, Olmstead will continue as showrunner on Chicago Fire and also will serve as showrunner on Chicago PD, working on both series with Chicago Fire creators/exec producers and Chicago PD co-creators/exec producers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, as well as exec producer Dick Wolf. Making things a bit easier logistically is the fact that Chicago PD has a midseason order. “Matt is an experienced and creative showrunner and we were thrilled with his stellar work on Chicago Fire, Uni TV EVP Bela Bajaria said. “We look forward to extending our relationship with him on Chicago PD and at Universal TV”.
More than two weeks after its upfront presentation, NBC has decided the fate of its last remaining bubble series, giving drama Hannibal a 13-episode second-season renewal for a return next midseason or later. The series, based on the characters from Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon, was developed for television by Bryan Fuller, who executive produces. “We’re so proud of Bryan’s vision for a show that is richly textured, psychologically complex, and very compelling,” NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke said. “There are many great stories still to be told.”
Hannibal got off to a solid ratings start and was in serious contention for an early renewal. The numbers eventually tapered off, and NBC put the renewal decision on hold. Hannibal was well reviewed, and there overtures from at least one cable network in case NBC passed on a second season. Additionally, Amazon, which carries repeats of the show, had expressed serious interest in taking it on. Hannibal, from Gaumont International Television, is produced under a different model at a license fee that is a fraction of what dramas with similar production values cost.
UPDATE, MONDAY 6 PM: Blake Shelton won’t be the only judge from The Voice appearing on NBC‘s May 29 Oklahoma Tornado Relief Concert. Usher has joined the Healing in the Heartland show. The concert is set to air live from Oklahoma City on the network and several other Comcast owned broadcasters on Wednesday at 9 PM. NBC also announced today that Darius Rucker will perform in Oklahoma City along with Shelton. Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic had previously been announced to play the United Way benefit concert. More acts are expected to be added before the show.
PREVIOUSLY, FRIDAY PM: Blake Shelton’s relief benefit concert for victims of the tornado that hit The Voice judge’s native state of Oklahoma will air live on NBC at 9 PM ET May 29, the network announced today. Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire and Vince Gill are the only other musicians set to appear right now, but sources say Shelton’s fellow Voice judges likely will perform in some capacity as well. The concert for the United Way will also air on Style, G4, Bravo, E! and CMT on either a live or delayed basis.
The Voice judge and Oklahoma native said last night that he wanted to put together a relief concert in support of victims of the massive Oklahoma tornado that hit earlier this week, killing dozens. Now NBC is working fast to make it happen. If it comes together, I understand the Blake Shelton-led concert would be held early next week — the network is putting together a few more elements, including where the event will be held. Details about the performances are sketchy, but it’s anticipated that several of Shelton’s Voice co-judges would be involved. Shelton performed a song with wife Miranda Lambert during last night’s live episode of The Voice as Red Cross donation information played on the screen.